Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started in mid-March: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify click here span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)
It’s raining…somewhere! Fall has arrived, winter’s coming, Covid cases are surging. Dr. Fauci (remember him?) warned us that when the weather turns cold and rainy–this is pretty technical, so focus–“We’re going to be facing a whole lot of trouble.” What to do? Idea. Here are 23 “rain” songs. Grab your galoshes, your brolly, and… listen up!
- “Singin’ in The Rain” Gene Kelly. Famous song from the 1952 film, actually composed somewhere around 1927 by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Some say the movie was based on the song. Our family watched this film–I don’t want to exaggerate–6,743 times. I copied all the dance moves. Modestly, I’ve been called a young Donald O’Connor.
- “Rhythm of The Rain” The Cascades. Harmonious singing group from San Diego. This is their hit, from 1962. Adding thunder and pitter-patter of rain is a stroke of genius. Their only stroke of genius.
- “Who’ll Stop the Rain” Creedence Clearwater Revival. Southern rock, folk rock, whatever. I LOVE Creedence and John Fogerty is a legend. This smash is from 1970 and also features rain falling. “Still the rain keeps pouring, falling on my head.” Yeah!
- “Rain Drops” Dee Clark. Smash hit in 1961. Incredible singer. How about that falsetto? Jackie Wilson, anybody? Plus, more thunder, more rain. I’m putting on my rubbers.
- “Laughter in The Rain” Neil Sedaka. Great singer-songwriter from Brooklyn and founding member of The Tokens. This from 1974, includes saxophone solo by Jim Horn.
- “Rainy Night in Georgia” Brook Benton. A hit from 1970. Another great singer. Born Benjamin FranklinPeay. Why would his parents name him that? Were they into kites? Almanacs? Bifocals?
- “So. Central Rain” R.E.M. Best band out of Athens, GA. As you can tell, I’ve got Georgiaon my mind. The group sang this on the Letterman show, making their first network TV appearance.
- “It’s Raining” Irma Thomas. Called “The Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma recorded this in 1961. She’s great and has never gotten her due.This song was produced by Allen Toussaint and written by Naomi Neville, which was Toussaint’s pseudonym.
- “Rainy Days and Mondays” Carpenters. Sibs Karen and Richard born in New Haven, CT, came out to Cali in 1963. This song, released in 1971, was written by Paul Nichols and Paul Williams. Karen. What a voice.
- “I Wish It Would Rain” The Temptations. From Detroit, Motown legends. The group was a revolving door for lead singers. This melancholy song from 1967 features David Ruffin.
- “Rain on The Roof” The Lovin’ Spoonful. Folk-rock gods, led by John Sebastian, I was nuts for this group. Saw them in person. Wore bell-bottoms and glasses like John. Sang like John…Fine. No need to fact check. This rainy-day song from 1966.
- “I Can’t Stand the Rain” Ann Peebles. Memphis soul singer Peebles co-wrote this with her husband Don Bryant and Bernie Miller in 1973. Covered famously by Tina Turner. I prefer the Peebles’ version. Sorry, Tina.
- “Crying in The Rain” The Everly Brothers. Harmonic duo Don and Phil (who barely spoke to each other) sing this 1962 Howard Greenfield-Carole King composition. Did she write everyhit song in the sixties?
- “Buckets of Rain” Bob Dylan. 1974, from Blood on the Tracks,oft-covered. Went with this over “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall,” which was written in the form of a poem. A long poem.
- “Early Morning Rain” Gordon Lightfoot. Canadian folkie Lightfoot wrote this in 1965, was sung by Ian and Sylvia a year later. You may realize by now that I’m an old folkie.
- “Famous Blue Raincoat” Leonard Cohen. Canadian poet-songwriter-novelist Cohen recorded this in 1971, referring to his favorite Burberry raincoat. Really. Leonard lived for a time in Pacific Palisades, always wearing his hat. I saw him once. “Nice hat,” I said. He said, “Here, take it. I hate it.” I got $10,000 for it on Ebay.
- “Raining Raining” Nick Lowe. Nicholas “Drain” Lowe, born in Britain, sings this catchy song from his album, Nick the Knife. “Drain” really is his middle name. And I was pissed at my parents for giving me “Stuart.”
- “Fire and Rain” James Taylor. Mr. Golden Voice. This 1970 song, about addiction and the loss of a friend, comes from Sweet Baby James. The ever-present Carole King plays piano.
- “The Rain Came Down” Steve Earle & The Dukes. Multi-talented Earle–singer, songwriter, poet, actor, activist, and seven-time husband (twice to the same woman) sings this blistering 1987 Steinbeck-esque song. Love this guy.
- “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” B.J. Thomas. Texas troubadour sings this Bacharach-David, Oscar-winning song from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.You gotta have this one. I’m surprised Carole King isn’t on here somewhere.
- “Fool in The Rain” Led Zeppelin. From 1979. British legends’ best song? I think so. I especially love how the song turns into a sambain the middle. Play this VERY loud.
- “Here Comes the Rain Again” Eurythmics. Strings, synthesizer and a lot of fake rain. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart keep our mini British invasion going. From 1983 album Touch.
- “Purple Rain” Prince. From the 1984 film of the same name. Second most famous “rain” song of all time? Take out your lighters or your cellphones, dim the lights, and sway. Carole King brought snacks and juice boxes for the cast and crew.
Well, I may be all wet… but I love this playlist! I ask only two favors…
Don’t Forget to Disinfect and… PLAY IT LOUD!
The link again: rain songs.
Nobody ever called me a young Donald O’Connor, not even Hal Lally at Hal Lally Dance Studio in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and my parents paid him a fortune for those lessons.
I did see Leonard Cohen in the Palisades. He did not give me his hat.
Carole King did not bring snacks and juice boxes for the cast and crew of Purple Rain. Although, it’s not so far-fetched.
Last week’s poll question result: Phoebe Bridgers or Big Thief… NOBODY WON.
This week’s poll question: Best “movie” song: “Singin’ in The Rain,” “Raindrops,” or “Purple Rain.” Be honest.